Week Three: Living In the Not Yet

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The scene of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his arrest is one of the most powerful scenes in the Bible.  Jesus surely had some sense of how his journey would end if He continued on his path.  It would involve, not just death, but excruciating pain like no other.  Undoubtedly, He had seen people who had been crucified by the Romans.  And yet, Jesus chose his path anyway.  How very impressive, and such a contrast to the much less difficult path I have chosen.  I do not believe that I, or we, sufficiently appreciate Jesus’ courage and willingness to do God’s will at all costs. 

The first verse of a famous hymn begins, “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.”  In this season of Lent, it is not for me to be prideful.  It is for me, rather, to contemplate God’s will above all, and not take the easy way out when I am confronted by fear, pain, suffering, or rejection.  The second verse of the song gives voice to my hope: “Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ, my God, all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them all to his blood.”

Let that hope be realized in each of us this holy season!

Rev. Dick House

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God, thank you for Jesus and for his willingness to give his all so that your will is done.  Let me not forget that I am called to do your will as well.  Give me courage to fulfill my calling regardless of the cost.  Amen.


Day One: 

DAILY — PRAYING SCRIPTURE:

Perhaps we are like the disciples of old.  We have a hard time staying awake when the Lord needs us most, yet awake we must be if we are to be attentive to the things of God.  Use these verses as a prayer to remind you of the need to be attentive to the cause of Christ.

Mark 14:32-42 — God, Jesus asked his disciples to stay awake, to pray when they went to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus admitted to being deeply grieved, yet the disciples could not stay awake to pray for Him. Help me to remain awake to your calling even when the hour is dark.  Let me contemplate Jesus’ sacrifice, and not avoid sacrifice myself when it is needed.  No matter the circumstance, let my gifts and graces be used on behalf of the kingdom.  Amen.

Ask yourself —  What are the distractions that cause me to forget about the things that Jesus cared about? 

Prayer:  God, thank you for Jesus and for his willingness to give his all so that your will is done.  Let me not forget that I am called to do your will as well.  Give me courage to fulfill my calling regardless of the cost.  Amen.


Day Two: 

If prayer was not easy for Jesus, then it surely cannot be easy for us, and yet pray we must if we are not to be overcome by our trials and tribulations.  May this scripture allow us to be placed in the Garden with Jesus as we seek to discern God’s will for our lives, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Luke 22:39-46 — God, help me learn from Jesus and believe that prayer can make a difference in my life and in the lives of others.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus sought You so earnestly, so honestly, that He was able to give his will to You. I want to believe that prayer can make a difference, but more than that, Lord, help me to actually pray, and pray fervently.  Help me to be in constant connection with You so as to not to be overcome by temptation, but to live in a manner that is in keeping with the Spirit of Christ.  Let me be a person of grace and goodness, and let love be in my life so that I can be a faithful witness for Christ.  Amen.

Ask yourself — Is it possible to feel something of what Jesus felt?  Can we find a word from God when we are alone and apart from others?   Can we help others to find a word from God as well?

Prayer: God, thank you for Jesus and for his willingness to give his all so that your will is done.  Let me not forget that I am called to do your will as well.  Give me courage to fulfill my calling regardless of the cost.  Amen.


Day Three:

To think it would be God’s will that his Anointed One should suffer and die—what an unusual concept. And yet, this is part and parcel of the Christian faith!  Use these verses to contemplate upon the necessary journey of Jesus and to see our role as those who engage Him in the Garden.

John 18:1-12 — God, Jesus faced his suffering boldly, willingly putting himself before those who wanted to arrest him. I would like to believe that no suffering is necessary in order to be a disciple of Jesus, and sometimes people talk as if it’s easy to follow Jesus, but it’s just not so.  Sometimes my expectations are wrong, or my actions are hasty.  Like Peter, I sometimes react too quickly, or, like the other disciples, I don’t react at all.  Forgive me for not being what Jesus needs.  Help me be a better disciple.  Amen.

Ask yourself — As a disciple, do I take my place as one who defends Jesus, or do I remain silent, slithering back into the shadows so as to not be seen as one of his followers?

Prayer: God, thank You for Jesus and for his willingness to give his all so that your will is done.  Let me not forget that I am called to do your will as well.  Give me courage to fulfill my calling regardless of the cost.  Amen.


Day Four: 

We like to think of ourselves as Christians, but so often being Christian is not our first priority.  We are pulled in all directions, and Christ is scarcely thought of or even mentioned.   These verses help us remember that it is our great privilege to proclaim Christ in all his glory!

Colossians 1:15-20 — God, it seems a lot to say that “in Him all things hold together.”  And yet, without Him how can the church be the church?  And how can I be what I need to be?  Help me to understand what it means for “the fullness of God” to dwell in Him, and what it means for Him to dwell in me.  Let me acknowledge how great Christ is and how I need what He has to offer.  Amen.

Ask yourself —  Is this passage ultimately about Christ only, or is there something for me to do having read it?  If there is something, what is it?

Prayer: God, thank You for Jesus and for his willingness to give his all so that your will is done.  Let me not forget that I am called to do your will as well.  Give me courage to fulfill my calling regardless of the cost.  Amen.


Day Five: 

Implicit in the Christian faith is the idea of suffering.  We must assume that Christians, at one time or another, will suffer, and they may well suffer for their faith.  The following Scripture seems to indicate this.

2 Corinthians 1:5-7 — God, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For we know that as You share in our sufferings, so also You share in our consolations,” our comfort.  God, help me to believe that You are with me as I seek to serve You.  The Scripture says “You patiently endure the same sufferings” that I endure.   Let my believing this be sufficient consolation no matter what circumstances or difficulties I face in my life.  When I suffer, let me remember You are with me.  Amen.

Ask yourself —  Am I willing to endure what I must sometimes endure to be a true disciple of Jesus?  Can I believe what the great Wesleyan theologian Albert Outler once said: “The ground of our belief, that the battle is worth our best, is not that God is above it calling the shots, but that he’s in it sharing the blows.”      

Prayer: God, thank You for Jesus and for his willingness to give his all so that your will is done.  Let me not forget that I am called to do your will as well.  Give me courage to fulfill my calling regardless of the cost.  Amen.


Day Six:

In Lent, among other things, we remember the scene of Jesus in the Garden.  We try to imagine Jesus' state of mind as He faced what He knew was before Him—abandonment and humiliation, but even worse, excruciating pain on a cross, ending in death.  How difficult it must have been for Jesus to carry his cross, and yet so very necessary to the fulfillment of his mission.  Let us recognize that we are the beneficiaries of his sacrifice.

Galatians 6:14 — God, if I am fortunate to receive life, let me not boast of receiving it, but let me give thanks and live accordingly.  Let me remember the words of the Apostle Paul:  “May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  God, you have come to the earth to serve us by giving us Christ, who leads us to life.  Through Christ the world is redeemed, and I am grateful!  Amen.

Ask yourself — The cross has been a powerful symbol over the centuries.  Am I up to carrying a cross?  If so, what might such a cross look like?

Prayer: God, thank You for Jesus and for his willingness to give his all so that your will is done.  Let me not forget that I am called to do your will as well.  Give me courage to fulfill my calling regardless of the cost.  Amen.


Day Seven: 

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As Christians, we live in light of the Good News.  However, it is not for us to ignore the journey Jesus made to make the Good News possible.  There is a hymn which says, “Must Jesus bear the cross alone, and all the world go free?  No, there’s a cross for everyone, and there’s a cross for me.”  Thinking about the song, I find myself contemplating the theme of this week, Living in the Not Yet.   The “not yet” is always before us.  It was there for Jesus, and it’s there for us.  What does the future look like, and what do we do with it?  That is always the question.  I invite you to read the week‘s Scriptures again and reflect upon any thoughts or questions that might inspire you to make a commitment to Christ.  Such a commitment could make for a better future! 

Gracious God, as your Son, Jesus, shared a meal with his friends, He broke bread with them, celebrating his friendships.   With relationships, we open ourselves up to pain, disappointment, joy, wonder and support.  Please help us stay focused on You this Lenten season.  Sometimes it is easy to become like the disciples and worry more about ourselves.  However, You sent your Son to help teach us another way.  Help me to focus on the work that is undone in Christ and the reminder that we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ.  Amen.

Catherine HortonComment